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Brainerd area may see strongest winds with tonight’s predicted severe weather

Strong to severe storms are likely this evening, starting in southwestern Minnesota, then spreading northeast across much of central and eastern Minnesota into western Wisconsin. Damaging wind gusts and large hail are the primary threats, though a few tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

Map shows severe weather outlook for May 12, 2022
A map shows the areas of the state most likely to see severe thunderstorms on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
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BRAINERD — Central Minnesota could be in for a wild ride tonight as forecasters predict severe storms and damaging winds.

The National Weather Service in Duluth issued an update Thursday evening, May 12, noting periods of strong storms, damaging winds and heavy rain are expected tonight. Some areas of the Northland may see multiple rounds of storms, and with heavy rainfall as a threat, a flood warning remains in effect.

Strong to severe storms are likely this evening, starting in southwestern Minnesota, then spreading northeast across much of central and eastern Minnesota into western Wisconsin. Damaging wind gusts and large hail are the primary threats, though a few tornadoes cannot be ruled out. Severe weather potential is highest in western and central Minnesota, with that threat diminishing moving eastward, the National Weather Service in Chanhassen stated.

Map showing wind threat with severe weather expected on May 12, 2022
The Storm Prediction Center with the National Weather Service expects the Brainerd lakes area to be among the most likely in the Northland to experience strong, damaging winds with the predicted severe weather on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
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Numerous severe thunderstorms are possible in Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Mille Lacs counties, along with most of Cass and Aitkin counties. Wadena County and other western Minnesota counties may see widespread severe thunderstorms. A tornado watch for Wadena and Todd counties was issued at 5:35 p.m. and is in effect until midnight.

“Tonight’s storms will likely be stronger and pose more of a damaging wind threat — especially near Brainerd,” the weather service stated.

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The Storm Prediction Center produced a map showing the areas of the state most at threat for damaging winds tonight. Much of the Brainerd lakes area has a 30% probability and is within an area the center marked as likely to see the strongest winds.

The lakes area is also at higher risk than the Arrowhead for flash flooding. Excessive runoff from heavy rains may result in flooding of low-lying and flood-prone areas, along with areas with poor drainage and urban areas.

In portions of Lake and Cook counties, snowmelt will add to the runoff, increasing the flooding potential of rivers, creeks and streams. Between three-quarters of an inch and 1.25 inches of precipitation fell Wednesday night and early Thursday morning across northern Minnesota. Rivers, especially those north of Highway 2 and along the North Shore, are already exhibiting rises on top of preexisting high flows. Another 1 to 1.5 inches of rain is forecast to fall over the same area through early Friday morning.

The weather service reminded people that thunderstorms can escalate quickly. Set up a way to get weather warnings on a cellphone and when alerted to a storm, get inside a sturdy building immediately. People should stay away from windows once indoors. If a building isn’t nearby, people are advised to get inside a vehicle.

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